“What do you do?” – the inevitable question that has become increasingly challenging to respond to. It used to be so easy when I worked for someone else and they told me what I did – I was intern, a manager, a marketing director…easy, it said so on the company business cards. Now that I’m pursuing freelance work in graphic design and photography – while writing this blog, doing DIY projects for this one, and running an online shop – I find myself scrambling for the right words when someone asks me the now very existential question. I do many different things in addition to my work pursuits like jogging, learning how to speak Italian and play the guitar, sew, play backgammon, go to the movies…
Unfortunately those other things aren’t what people are asking about as we live in a world where titles rule. Since that’s the case, why is it so hard to give myself a title? Better yet, why is it so hard to own it? Whatever you devote your time, energy, and/or interests to should be free-game to claim as “what you do” – and proudly so. Work-wise I have a crazy hang up about what I think I need to be doing in order to properly call myself this or that (have x number of clients, be making x amount of money, etc) when really, I’m already doing it! Now I just need to say it.
This goes for not being employed as well. When I moved to London with Joe, and hadn’t quite figured out what I wanted to do, it was almost embarrassing to admit that I was a quasi stay-at-home wife. I was reluctant to own the title because those domestic aspirations had never been on my radar, in fact, they were completely foreign. I was a working girl and had grown to identify my personal worth with whatever my current job title happened to be. Looking back, my insecurity was ridiculous because a) a job shouldn’t define who you are and b) taking care of the home, or for you mamas out there, taking care your kids all day is work, too. I invested a lot of time and energy setting up our new lives here and it wasn’t any less valuable than sitting at an office desk for eight hours a day. When I think about my sister, who left a thriving career to take on the most important, difficult, and rewarding job of her life as a new mom, I couldn’t be more proud. Even though it took her some time to recognize her new role, she now owns it like a rock star and the proof is in the pudding – those girls have more love and confidence than anyone I know!
We all take on different roles in different stages of life but whatever we do, we must give ourselves credit for it…new studies, new careers, new hobbies, new family. Everything has its worth and we owe it to ourselves to own it wholeheartedly. No excuses, no shame, no shyness, no whatever…the pursuit is ours and it should be celebrated every step of the way.
Have any of you experienced something similar in a new role or with a new pursuit?
(image: vintage wood type blocks from Portobello Market)